Presence of God Scripture Text:  Thessalonians 5: 16-19
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.  May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Pray without ceasing?  Are you kidding me?  Think how much we have to do in this season!  I mean, prayer is a good thing, a great thing in fact.  We all know that.  But pray without ceasing?  As in ALWAYS?  So, what do we do with those distractions, with all those who need us to do something?  What do we do with life?  What do you do with all the preparations that the season holds?  How do you fit that in?  Uh oh…Spirit effectively quenched!  Not good…I hate it when that happens!


The truth is, Paul was not telling us that we had to spend our days body-bent and knee-bowed.  The truth is, there is WAY too much work to do.  We’ve got some Kingdom-building to do, after all.  Paul was not calling us to a life spent in prayer but rather to a prayerful life, a life that is sacred, hallowed, a life lived in the unquenchable Spirit of God.  This has nothing to do with counting the number of hours or minutes or nano-seconds that you spend in prayer.  A prayerful life is one that sees everything as hallowed and holy, sees everything as of God, embraces life as a gift rather than a vessel to be filled with things and to do lists and results.  Praying without ceasing is not about “doing”; it is about being. Olga Savin says that “[the Scriptures] tell us that ceaseless prayer in pursuit of God and communion with [God] is not simply life’s meaning or goal, the one thing worth living for, but it is life itself.”  And a life lived the way it is called to be lived is the very will of God, the very will of, as the Scripture says, the one who is faithful.  It is prayer–ceaseless prayer.


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if in our Advent waiting, we found a time of prayer, we found a time, as Mary did, to ponder (Luke 2: 19).  Maybe THAT’S what’s wrong with us.  Maybe we’ve lost our ability to ponder, to be attentive to what resides in the deepest part of our soul, to be aware of God’s Presence in our lives.  Maybe this time of waiting is so that we’ll take the opportunity to do some serious pondering, to pray without ceasing.  After all, what in your life is NOT holy?  What in your life is NOT positively bursting with the Divine?  What in your life is NOT a gift from God?  Well, the answer is nothing.  There is NOTHING in your life that is not full to the very brim–spilling-over-chock-full-seemingly-unable-to-put-anything-else-in-brim–with the presence of the one who calls you, the one who is faithful, the one who is ALWAYS there.  Make everything you do an offering to God.  Let everything you have and everything you are be a preparation for God’s coming.  Offer it to God.  G.K. Chesterton once said “let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”  Praying without ceasing is probably more about living, about loving, about holy waiting, than it is about prayer as we often define it.  It has little to do with the words we say and everything to do with tuning ourselves to the conversation that God is already inviting us to live.


The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw—and knew I saw—all things in God and God in all things.  (Mechtilde of Magdeburg, 13th century)


FOR TODAY:  Pray without ceasing.  Look around you.  EVERYTHING that you see, EVERYTHING that you touch, EVERYTHING that you imagine, EVERYTHING that you let loose, EVERYTHING that you pick up, EVERYTHING that you eat, EVERYTHING that you love, EVERYTHING that is you…EVERYTHING is full to the brim with God.  Pray without ceasing.


Grace and Peace,




Anointing Presence

mary-anoints-jesusThis Week’s Lectionary Passage: John 12: 1-8
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Several years ago a friend of mine forwarded me one of those prepared video streams with the background music that everyone emails around.  I have to admit that many of them have very little substance and some are bordering on being downright hokey, but this one struck me.  It told of a teacher who asked her students to list the Seven Wonders of the World and write about them.  They began work and most of them came up with the same ones that most of us would:  Egypt’s Grand Pyramids, The Taj Mahal, The Grand Canyon, the Panama Canal, the Empire State Building, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Great Wall of China (yeah, I know, it depends on what list you’re using, doesn’t it?).  But, to the point, one girl seemed to be having difficulty.  The teacher asked her to read hers aloud so that maybe the others could help.  Her answers to the question “What are the Seven Wonders of the World?” were these:  to see, to hear, to smell, to touch, to feel, to laugh, and to love. 

The story said that you could have heard a pin drop.  What a really incredible answer!  It’s more than just those biological senses that we have to make life enjoyable.  Rather, those are the things that connect us to each other.  Those are the gifts that give us a common humanity and draw us together.  The ability to see, to hear, to smell, to touch, to feel, to laugh, and to love—any of them enable us to reach out and connect to the world around us.  

This story is told in all four canonical Gospel accounts.  But it’s never told the same way twice, illustrating yet again that the Bible is not an historical narrative but rather a way to connect us to God and to each other.  The fact, though, that costly and seemingly extravagant perfumed oil is poured onto Jesus is always the same.  So what does that mean?  What could this costly nard mean in our relationship to God?  I think on some level, it represents presence.  It represents the way that we connect, the way that we relate.  It represents the way that we love.  After all, this story is all about presence and connecting with each other.  They have a dinner together; they are served; Mary touches Jesus’ feet; Mary wipes his feet with her hair.  (You will notice that in none of the accounts is Mary checking her email or texting her friend while she is doing this!)  She is present–fully and completely present.

Sometimes I think that our society (myself included!) sometimes forgets what that’s about.  What does it mean to be present, to fully and completely engage with another, to enter their world, to open yourself up to them, to who they are, to the God that you see in them?  If each of us indeed has a piece of the Godself in us, an image of God in our being, then engaging with each other in this very moment is the very crux of our spiritual journey.  It is the way that we journey to God, becoming aware of the moment and the experience that God has placed before us right now.  Alfred North Whitehead supposedly once said that “the present is holy ground.”  Maybe that’s what Jesus was trying to get across.  “Look, look at me now, be with me now.  Take this moment that God gives you now and feel it, for it is offering you each other–see, hear, smell, touch, feel, laugh, love.  In other words, live loving God and neighbor with all your heart and your soul and your might, with everything that you have.”

On this Lenten journey, we are coming closer and closer to the Cross.  Do not be afraid.  Take each step as it comes and extravagantly anoint it.  See, hear, smell, touch, feel, laugh, love.  The point is the journey itself and what you do while your on it.  Eternity is not “out there” somewhere.  It is here, it is now, beckoning you on this path.

Grace and Peace,


Were You There at the Parade?

Palm Sunday Road, Jerusalem
February, 2010

Today’s Scripture Passage:  Mark 11: 1-11
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied the re a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Everyone loves this story.  We all like a parade!  When I was growing up, I used to love parades.  I couldn’t wait for the week-end of the Katy Fat Stock Show and Rodeo and the parade on that Saturday.  And I would spend the whole three hours watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the parade that would bring the official start of Christmas.  Parades are exciting!  They are beginnings.  They usher in something.

We all know of this parade.  We like the idea of waving our palm branches and celebrating the great and glorious King.  I think I used to envision this parade with the main gates of the city open and Jesus parading down the main street of Jerusalem.  In my mind, everyone stopped to watch.  It was a glorious site.  But if you think about it a little bit (don’t you hate it when people do that?), Jesus supposedly rode this poor little colt (or a donkey if you talk to the writer Matthew) straight down the Palm Sunday Road, straight down from the Mount of Olives, through the Garden of Gethsemane, towards what is essentially the back gate of the temple.   This little motley parade probably did not go down Herodian Street and probably didn’t even draw that big a crowd.  These were the people that had heard (or at least heard OF) Jesus.  These were the ones who had already begun to follow him.  Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan present the idea that there was possibly a whole other parade coming into the main gate and processing down Main Street, a parade with rulers and grand steeds and lots of royal acclaim.  And on the other side of the city, coming into the back gates, was this small processional of underdressed commoners, a small underdeveloped equine, and a diverse band carrying palm branches.

And, it appears, this half-engaged crowd didn’t even really stay around.  By the time Jesus got to the temple, he looked around.  It was late and they were gone and so he and the disciples went out to Bethany (Hebrew, “House of Figs”).  The other parade probably ended with an all-night party.  After all, the city was bustling.  The Passover was coming.  But Jesus and the twelve, alone, went to the house of Mary and Martha.

So, where are we?  Which parade are we watching?  Are we watching the Herodian Processional, with its grand floats and amazing giant balloons, with its bands and its celebrity master?  Or are we in this small minority watching a lowly donkey carry this man Jesus?  And at the end, do we lay our palm branch down and go back to our business?  Or do we follow Jesus to Bethany?

On this Palm / Passion Sunday, where are you?  Were you there at the parade?  Were you there when it was over?  Where are you?

Grace and Peace,


A Call to Revolution

Scripture Text:  Luke 1:45-55
And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

It’s called The Magnificat or the Song of Mary.  It is a young girl’s realization that life will never be the same again, her affirmation that God has called her to be a part of something that will turn the world upside down.  Our Christian tradition has probably overly-domesticated the image of Mary a bit, giving her characteristics of one who is young and meek and downtrodden, a scared young girl that became the mother of Christ.  But these words are not meek; in fact, they are downright radical for the first century and for us today.  It is a call to take those who are on top–the rich, the haughty, the successful, the powerful and bring them down.  It is a call to elevate those who are poor, hungry, the very bottom of our society.  Who are we kidding?  In our burgeoning political climate, this is NOT the way to get elected.  This is NOT the way to gain support.  This is anything but politically correct.  In fact, this is a call to revolution.  I’m betting these words will not show up in any of the 584 presidential debates (doesn’t it seem like there are about that many?) between now and next November.

E. Stanley Jones calls The Magnificat, “the most revolutionary document in the world”.  It is said that this document terrorized the Russian Czars.  In fact, for a time during the 1980’s, the government of Guatemala banned its public recitation.  After all, if someone actually paid attention to this stuff, who knows what could happen?  Why, this might be downright dangerous to our acceptable of way life!You know, I think that’s the point.  We are called to DO something. We are called to pay attention. We are called to no longer accept society’s “acceptable” way of life.  The Christian movement did not begin as a comfortable and affirming religious tradition of the majority.  Just like we have domesticated and calmed our image of Mary, we have done the same with our tradition.  You see, Christianity began as a revolution, a revolution against the way the world rewards money and status and power, against the way the world leaves behind those that do not have the resources to care for themselves, and against the way the world sets up standards and rules for the way things should be.  It is a revolution against a world that has lost its sense of grace and compassion and justice.  It is a revolution that followed the Way of Christ.  After all, if someone actually paid attention to this stuff, who knows what could happen?

In this Season of Advent, we are becoming more and more aware of the mystery of God’s Presence and God’s Love that is even now breaking into our way of being.  God With Us, Emmanuel, was not born into our little world to tell us what a stupendous job we are doing!  God came, born as one of us, to show us the Way to something different, to call us into revolution.  Where are you now?  How full do you feel today?  How can you be ready to birth God into your life when you are so full of this world?
In this season of Advent, give yourself the gift of answering the call to revolution, of being hungry enough to be filled with God.

Grace and Peace,



Taking Care of Busyness (but not all!)

I just returned back to work today after a couple of days off.  It was wonderful!  It was what I guess they’re calling a “stay-cation”.  I just stayed at home and sort of “piddled”.  I got some (but not all) of the planting done, some (but not all) of the organizing done, some (but not all) of that “to do” list done,  In my “but not all” times, I wandered through shops that I kept saying I wanted to visit, sat on the porch, and walked the dog.  I bought an old concrete yard ornament that is a weather-beaten rabbit who has two (but not all!) of his ears.  The antique dealer sold him to me for $18.00 and he’s in my front flower bed in front of the porch.  His name is now Chester and he has a home (which is the reason that the dealer agreed to sell him so cheaply!).  And I went and bought fresh (I mean REALLY fresh) fruits and vegetables from a neighborhood market and then made up things that I could do with them.  And, to top it off, I lost weight!  Maybe “but not all” is a good thing on several levels!

We are a busy people!  To tell the truth, even my “stay-cation” was wrought with emails and calls that were “work related”.  But they were important–so important, in fact, that I need to check emails and messages while I’m doing my self-prescribed “piddling”!  So I was able set up some meetings and agreed to do another mentoring gig.  Really?  Am I THAT important?  No, not at all.  I think on some level I just don’t want to lag behind the world.  I’m letting the world and it’s busyness lead my life.  So what do you do?

I think you change the way you do things.  You alter the route of your life.  I was watching something on TV during my time off.  (Truthfully, I don’t know what because I just had it on in the midst of the “piddling”.  Again, I watched some (but not all)!)  Anyway, their was a test question asked as to whether one can improve his or her memory more by memorizing something or by changing one’s route to work or some other place.  Interestingly enough, the answer was by changing one’s route.  I think it’s because it makes us look at things differently.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t arrive at the place that we would have anyway; it just means that we got there a different way and probably paid more attention to what was along our path. Now don’t get me wrong.  I am a BIG ritual person.  That is not what gets us in trouble.  It’s not the ritual of it.  It’s the rote of it.  Look up “rote”.  One of the definitions is “from memory, without thought or meaning.”  “Without thought or meaning”?  That’s pretty scary.

You know, we’ve seen this theme before.  Think about it.  The Scriptures are big on wildernesses.  There are lots of accounts of people just wandering around until they found where they were supposed to be.  Maybe the point is not that they were lost but that they had found a different route!  I think ritual connects and points us to God.  But being open to changing the way that we walk may allow us to see the God who walks with us along the way. 

So, here’s what I think.  I don’t think iPhones are bad.  I don’t think ritual is bad.  I don’t think work and staying busy is bad.  I don’t even think that one’s inability to say “no” once in awhile (but not all) is really all that bad.  It’s the WAY we do it.  Each of our lives is a work of art-in-process.  Each step is a brushstroke filling the canvas with color and texture.  And eventually, that bright white light that you see is the blending of all of those colors.  White is the most brilliant color of all.  Without color, without contrast, the world is dark.

So, how do we take care of busyness?  Maybe it’s only a matter of loosening it up enough to follow a different route.  Maybe some (but not all) busyness isn’t all that bad.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

…Robert Frost

Have a wonderfully busy week…just drive around a different block once in awhile!
Grace and Peace,



Today’s Lectionary Gospel Passage:  John 12: 1-8

We are a “doing” society—running and scurrying from appointment to appointment and from one major life event to the next. Everything tells us that we should be looking ahead, planning and preparing for what will come next. Maybe that’s why this season of Lent is difficult for us. It is the walk that marks the end of Jesus’ ministry, the journey that takes us toward the end of what we know, to the place for which we cannot plan. It’s not an easy walk. It’s hard to know what we’re supposed to do. Perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps we’re not supposed to be DOING anything at all. Perhaps this is the time when we’re just supposed to BE.

And so Lent begins to strip us—of those things to which we hang out of habit or comfort, of our sense of identification with Jesus’ ministry and journey, and even of our proud certainty-driven shouts of Alleluia. All of that is packed away for this season, perhaps in an effort to make our difficult journey to the cross a little lighter and a little more intentional. This is the season when we try NOT to look ahead to that empty cross and the rolled-away tomb. Not yet, anyway. This is the season when we are here. Just here…here in this place and here in this time and surrounded by what surrounds us right now. It is time to stop doing and planning, if only for a little while. It is time to realize that this place where you stand IS holy ground. Here…

In this Year C of our Lectionary, we actually read this passage twice—once for this fifth Sunday of Lent and then again on the Monday of Holy Week. Sometimes that presents a bit of a challenge for us to make sure that we don’t sound like we’re repeating ourselves. But maybe this Scripture is more about living in the now than some others are anyway.

In the previous chapter, Jesus has raised Martha and Mary’s brother, Lazarus, from the dead. The event would be the turning point of the Gospel story. With that, the wheels have been set in motion that will take Jesus to the cross. After all, for those trying to maintain the status quo, keep things the way they are, this was too much. Jesus had to be stopped. “So,” the text says, “from that day on they planned to put him to death.” It is the turning point into the passion of Holy Week.

But here…what about now? Think about it. You can imagine how Martha and Mary must have felt when their only brother, whom they loved, had died. We’ve all been there, wishing for just one more moment, just one more look, just one more embrace. But here…that is exactly what they have. They had Lazarus back. They could look at him; they could hold him. And Jesus had done it all for them. Their gratefulness could not even be expressed. So, they threw a party. It was all that they could think of to do.  So Martha pulled out the best linens and the best dishes. She cooked up her finest recipes and they went and pulled the best wine (you know, the stuff that had been saved for years for a “special occasion”) out of the store room. And they began to celebrate. They all knew that things had changed, that the threats of what was to come hung in the air outside, heavy with the stench of death. They all knew that the end was fast approaching. But today…today their brother was lost and now was found! Only in this case, he was “really” lost—they assumed permanently—and was “really” found. Before they were deep in grief and now they are ecstatic in thankfulness and celebration. And so this evening, now, here in this time, here in this place, they would celebrate.

And here Mary can no longer contain herself. “What Jesus has done for me and my family,” she thought, “is beyond words of thankfulness, beyond anything I can imagine. And now he has put himself on the line.” So, with the deepest compassion and thankfulness, she made her way to the corner, where the expensive oil sat on the top shelf. There it was protected and saved. And Mary took it, broke the seal, and began to pour it generously and extravagantly on Jesus’ feet. She knew that Jesus was about to walk through something that she could not even fathom. And all because he had done something for her and her family. The fragrance filled the house as those in the room stood there in shock. Mary was surely out of her mind—wasting that expensive oil that could have been sold for good money and touching Jesus’ feet and then unbinding her hair in mixed company and wiping Jesus feet with it. What must she be thinking?

The truth was, they were right. Mary was not thinking normally. She was not thinking about how much the oil had cost or for what other things it could have been used or saved. She was not thinking about how it all looked and what proper society and the rules that bound her thought. She wasn’t even thinking about what was going to happen in a few days. Now was not the time for grief. Now was the time to spend together, to love, and to share, and, if only for a moment, to pour extravagance on one another. She did not want to ever again spend time wishing that she had one more moment, or one more look, or one more embrace. They were here. And she was grateful beyond all words.

But more than the party, more than the priceless oil, Mary gave Jesus probably the greatest gift she could—her presence. Being present in our spiritual life always sort of has two meanings. There’s being present, as in being there, sitting there. And then there’s the present, as in now, as in here, in this moment of time. We probably do OK with the first. We’re all perfectly capable of showing up at the appointed time that is noted on our calendar or our Blackberry. But being attentive to the presence is much harder. It means living in this moment and noticing everything that it holds. It means living here, right where you are, and realizing that it is truly holy ground. It means paying attention to each other.

This living in the moment with full awareness is not a new thing. Most of the world’s religions see that as a necessary spiritual discipline. Zen Buddhism talks about it as “nowness.” Hindu, Jewish, Moslem, and Christian understandings all urge us to make the most of every opportunity. Dan Wakefield says that “theologically, you cannot see the future.” He goes on to say that “traditional Judaism sees that as arrogance—it’s like picking God’s pocket.” (Dan Wakefield, in Creating from the Spirit) God has given us the here and now and God is moving through this moment. Why, then, are we in such a hurry to leave it behind?

Philip Simmons says that “the present moment, like the spotted owl or the sea turtle, has become an endangered species. Yet more and more I find that dwelling in the present moment, in the face of everything that would call us out of it, is our highest spiritual discipline. More boldly, I would say that our very “presentness” is our salvation; the present moment, entered into fully, is our gateway to eternal life.” (Philip Simmons, in Learning to Fall) For me, that is a powerful statement. But it makes sense. Our lives as well as our spiritual journeys are not goals to reach or things to be accomplished. (The Epistle passage says that.) Instead, we walk a road that is made up of holy moments, each one a gift from God, that are strung together with a tapestry and an artistry that only God can do. Each one opens to the next; each one opens to whatever God holds for us; each one is significant by itself and made holy as it spills into the next. If we choose to live our lives based on expected outcomes or hold back on part of our living waiting for the right moment, we have missed the holiness that is here.

Terry Hershey is an Episcopal Priest and lecturer that sends out a weekly email entitled “Sabbath Moment”. I appreciate it because it talks about taking time and appreciating time and living time—all those things with which I, like many of us, struggle. In this week’s writing, he tells the story of a Hindu holy man who reached the outskirts of a village and settled down under a tree for the night when a villager came running up to him. The villager screamed, “The stone! The stone! Give me the precious stone!” ”What stone?” asked the holy man. “Last night the Lord Shiva appeared to me in a dream,” said the villager, “And told me that I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk, I should find a holy man who would give me a precious stone that would make me rich forever.”

The holy man rummaged in his bag and pulled out a stone. “He probably meant this one,” he said, as he handed the stone over to the villager. “I found it on a forest path some days ago. You can certainly have it.” The man gazed at the stone in wonder. It was a diamond, probably the largest diamond in the whole world, for it was as large as a person’s head. He took the diamond and walked away. All night he tossed about in bed, unable to sleep. The next day at the crack of dawn, he woke the holy man and said, “Now, please, please give me the wealth that makes it possible for you to give this diamond away so easily.”

Hershey says that the diamond is a metaphor for the “one more thing”. You know, the encounter or accoutrement or experience that will give us the sensation that we have arrived. You know, where we “should” be…And in our “blindness” we do not recognize the value of any true diamond we hold in our hands.

He goes on and uses a piece that was written several years ago by Robert Hastings called “The Station”. Here’s how it goes:

Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the window we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, or city skylines and village halls.  But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Banks will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering – waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
When we reach the station, that will be it!”, we cry. “When I’m 18.” “When I buy a new SL Mercedes Benz!” “When I put the last kid through college.” “When I have paid off the mortgage!” “When I get a promotion.” “When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!”
Sooner or later, we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us…Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough. (From “The Diamond”, by Terry Hershey, in Sabbath Moment, March 15, 2010)

So, here we are. What do we do with this moment? Do we attempt to save it for later? Sure, you and I both have faith enough to know that God will give us another. But think what we’d miss. Perhaps this season of Lent, as it cleanses us and strips us, leaves us just vulnerable to make us look around at what is here, to learn to live the life that God wants for us, without regrets for the past or worries about the future.  Mary got that. Days later, Jesus’ walk would end. But Mary would have no regrets this time. In this moment, here, she lifted the jar and broke the seal and poured out everything she had. There would be more later. This was for now.

This is not a new concept. In the 17th century, the French Jesuit Priest, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, wrote a work entitled The Sacrament of the Present Moment. And centuries later, this moment is no different than that one. He said that “the present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love…The will of God is manifest in each moment, an immense ocean which only the heart fathoms insofar as it overflows with faith, trust and love.”

Here…here is your moment. It’s never happened before. It will never be again. What extravagance can you bring to it? How can you truly be present in it? But remember…you are standing on holy ground. Here.

Grace and Peace….Here,